How Massage Therapists Can Create a Home Gym, MASSAGE MagazineFor health maintenance and injury prevention, massage therapists know they need to routinely exercise but don’t often have the time or money to go to a fitness club. Don’t let this be your excuse for not taking care of yourself. Setting up a small but effective multi-station gym in a home or office is easy. It will allow you to conveniently maintain or improve your strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, balance and posture—and it doesn’t take a great deal of space or cash.

Essential equipment includes elastic tubes with handles and a door anchor, exercise bands and an extremity strap, a large exercise ball, a stretching strap, a hand cross-trainer and flex bars, stability or balance trainers, and an exercise mat.

Elastic tubes with handles and bands offer an effective and clinically proven way to perform a variety of resistance exercises for the entire body. Elastic resistance devices can be easily stored in a drawer and are great for training because they provide resistance throughout the entire range of motion—both concentric and eccentric contractions. The tubes and bands easily attach to a door anchor, which can be placed above the door, along the door or under the door. This turns a simple door into a complete workout station for upper and lower body exercises.

To perform curls, reverse curls and shoulder shrugs, stand on the center of a band or tube and hold the ends in your hands. Research has shown the isotonic resistance using elastic tubing is as effective as using heavy dumbbells. A heavy resistance tube or band will enhance squat exercises.

You can strengthen hips and legs with elastic exercise bands and a device called an extremity strap. Hip flexion, extension and abduction are performed standing, and many arm and lower extremity exercises can be performed seated in a chair.

Core-strengthening activities and stretching exercises can be performed on an exercise mat and with a large exercise ball. Balance exercises can also be performed on an exercise ball or with stability trainers.

A stretching strap works well for self-assisted PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) and active isolated stretching activities, and fingers and forearms can be stretched and strengthened with hand cross-trainers and flex bars.

There you have it: a total body workout with equipment that doesn’t take a great deal of space or a great deal of cash.

If you’d like your clients to also experience the benefits of exercise and strengthening, have these products available for them to purchase. They can rebalance their bodies and extend the benefits of your massage sessions at home.

*Note: This article, “Create a Home Gym,” was originally published in the February 2012 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.

Jeffrey Forman, Ph.D., is a tenured professor of physical education and massage therapy program coordinator at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. He is a popular speaker and author; his most recent book is Managing Physical Stress with Therapeutic Massage (Cengage, 2007). He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board and a professional speaker for Performance Health (